AFC East Season Odds Preview
No division in the NFL has had a reigning king for nearly as long as the AFC East has. The New England Patriots have won the AFC East title nine times in the last 10 seasons, an unprecedented run that shows no signs of coming to an end.
The Miami Dolphins appear to be on the rise, and are the only team that has won the AFC East other than New England over the last decade. Can Miami climb the mountain and end New England’s current four-year run at the top, or will it just be business as usual in the AFC East?
New England Patriots (Odds to Win Division at Bovada -400)
New England is dealing with a ton of turnover this offseason, losing its top three weapons in the passing game in Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, and Aaron Hernandez. For many teams, this would be a big red flag.
But Tom Brady and Bill Belichick have proven resilient in the past dealing with high turnover. The Patriots haven’t won less than 10 games since 2002, and have won at least 12 games in seven of the last 10 seasons including each of the last three. With one of the game’s elite quarterbacks running one of the league’s most innovative offenses, the supporting cast has proven to be interchangeable.
Miami Dolphins (Odds to Win Division at Bovada +325)
Miami went 7-9 SU last season in rookie Ryan Tannehill’s first year under center. The front office spent the offseason bolstering his offense with the addition of WR Mike Wallace and TE Dustin Keller, and also improved the defense drafting Dion Jordan and signing Danell Ellerbe and Phillip Wheeler.
After a busy free agency period, Miami has significantly improved its team on paper. The next step will be turning that potential into results on the field. If New England’s personnel turnover and offseason distractions finally cause the juggernaut team to falter, Miami has the best chance of taking advantage of it.
New York Jets (Odds to Win Division at Bovada +1600)
Back-to-back trips to the AFC Championship Game in 2009 and 2010 seem like a distant memory to the New York Jets at this point. The offense under Mark Sanchez reached new levels of futility last season, and not much was done to improve his supporting cast this offseason.
The Jets don’t appear to have the offense to compete in today’s NFL, even if the defense continues to play well. Cornerback Dee Milliner was drafted to replace Darrelle Revis, who has been a mainstay for this defense for years. Look for rookie Geno Smith to take over at quarterback at some point this season when the Jets fall in the standings.
Buffalo Bills (Odds to Win Division at Bovada +1600)
Buffalo cut ties with Ryan Fitzpatrick and drafted E.J. Manual to be the quarterback of the future for the Bills. The Bills also drafted a pair of wide receivers in Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin. This rookie class, along with RB C.J. Spiller, should be able to put up some points this season.
Unfortunately for the Bills, the focus on improving the offense through the draft left the team’s pitiful defense unimproved. Buffalo may score a lot of points this year, but it will give up a lot of points too. Look for a trend towards the OVER if Manual is able to acclimate to the NFL.
Six of the NFL’s eight divisions had different winners in 2009 and 2010, with Indianapolis and New England as the only two teams to win their division both years.
Editor Note: AFC East odds preview for 2012, click here.
But not only did New England finish atop the AFC East both years, but the exact order of New England, New York, Miami, and Buffalo remained the same.
Betting odds suggest that it will be the exact same order once again in 2011. Will the season play out as expected, or will someone buck the trend?
New England Patriots (Odds to Win Division at Bovada -165)
With Tom Brady and Bill Belichick at the helm, New England has won the AFC East eight times in the last 10 years, and is coming off of a season with the NFL’s best record (14-2). And the scariest part for opposing teams is that they may be even better in 2011.
Albert Haynesworth and Shaun Ellis give the Patriots a big boost on defense, and Chad Ochocinco provides Brady with yet another weapon downfield. New York has been knocking on the door, but this team won’t be easy to catch.
New York Jets (Odds to Win Division at Bovada +185)
Boasting one of the best defenses in the NFL, the New York Jets have lost in the AFC conference final as a Wild Card team each of the last two years. This season they hope to take the next step in both the regular season and the playoffs.
Quarterback Mark Sanchez has a brand new wide receiving corps to work with as newcomers Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason join Santonio Holmes in what should be an outstanding unit. They’ve played New England well under Rex Ryan, and will try to finally dethrone them.
Miami Dolphins (Odds to Win Division at Bovada +900)
Miami’s defense finished in the top ten in the NFL in both rushing and passing defense, and should once again be a strong squad. The question marks come on offense, where Chad Henne needs to cut back on mistakes and Reggie Bush and rookie Daniel Thomas take over at running back.
The Dolphins are a good team, but they aren’t quite in the same tier as the Patriots and Jets. They’ll need a special season to break into the top two.
Buffalo Bills (Odds to Win Division at Bovada +2000)
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, RB Fred Jackson and WR Steve Johnson make for a solid core on offense, and rookie defensive tackle Marcell Dareus has the makings to be a star on defense.
The Bills aren’t a hopeless team, but they are sorely outmatched in the AFC East. All they can hope for is to build on last season’s win total to keep moving in the right direction.